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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Catherine Greig, Whitey Bulger’s girlfriend, pleads guilty; kin of alleged Bulger slay victims urge tough sentence




A soft-spoken, tearful Catherine Greig, girlfriend of notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, pleaded guilty today in federal court to helping him elude capture for 16 years.
Greig’s plea in US District Court in Boston came after a brief statement by Steve Davis, brother of one of the 19 people Bulger allegedly murdered. Davis urged the judge to consider his family’s anguish and disregard Greig’s tears.
“She’s not what she appears to be,” Davis said. "She’s a monster.”
US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock asked Greig, 60, to raise her voice at the beginning of the hearing. He asked her if she understood that there was no deal on the sentence she would receive. “I’m not bound by sentencing guidelines,” he said. “You understand that?”
“I do, your honor,” said Greig, who was clad in a blue prison uniform.
Woodlock slated a sentencing hearing for June 12.
US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said after the hearing, “Catherine Greig is not a victim. She stands convicted of a felony.”
She said prosecutors didn’t know yet what sentence they would recommend but it would be “significant” and she dismissed the idea that prosecutors were too lenient on her. “There was no deal, certainly no sweetheart deal,” she said.
When Greig and Bulger, 82, were arrested in June in the oceanside community of Santa Monica, Calif., where they had been living a quiet life for more than a decade, it brought an end to an international manhunt that had frustrated law enforcement officials for years. And it revived the hopes for justice of the families of Bulger’s alleged victims.
Greig pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, and identity fraud.
Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. A plea agreement previously filed in court said prosecutors and Greig’s lawyer had not reached an agreement on what her sentence should be and each side was free to make separate arguments to the judge. The agreement also did not require Greig to cooperate with authorities against Bulger.
Judge Woodlock told Greig today that prosecutors were in a position to compel her to testify and asked her if she understood she could face more time in jail if she didn’t cooperate. But family members of Bulger’s victims have said that prosecutors told them that she wouldn’t be called to testify.
Woodlock inquired, as is customary at the beginning of such hearings, into whether Greig understood what she was doing. When the judge asked if Greig had ever received treatment for mental issues, she said she had sought help in 1984 after a suicide in her family. She then broke into tears, but regained her composure as attorney Kevin Reddington patted her on the back.
The tears did not impress family members of Bulger’s alleged victims.
“We could have resolved this 16 years ago. She kept [Bulger] in hiding all that time,” said Steven Davis, whose sister Debra was allegedly strangled by Bulger in 1981. “She doesn’t deserve a break.”
After the hearing, Patricia Donahue, widow of Michael Donahue, a man Bulger allegedly killed in 1982, said, “Where were they when I had tears? She wasn’t concerned about my tears. She needs to pay for the things she has done.”
The plea agreement appeared to allow Greig to keep her Quincy home but prohibit her from profiting from her life with Bulger with a book or movie.
Assistant US Attorney Jack Pirozzolo told the judge that Greig’s Quincy home was not subject to forfeiture in the case against her, but the government could still seek to seize it in the case against Bulger. Judge Woodlock also suggested during the hearing that he might be able to seek fines from the Quincy home in the current case.
Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, fled just before his January 1995 federal racketeering indictment after being warned by retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. that he was about to be arrested. The notorious South Boston crime boss was charged with 19 murders after he fled and elevated to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.
The fugitive couple was captured June 22 in Santa Monica, where they had lived in the same rent-controlled apartment at least since 1998, according to neighbors and the FBI. They went by the names Charles and Carol Gasko.
The FBI found more than $820,000 cash and 30 loaded guns hidden inside the walls of the apartment shared by Greig and Bulger. Since they were returned to the Boston area last year, Greig has remained jailed without bail at a Rhode Island facility and Bulger is being held at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility.
In a statement signed March 7, admitting to the crimes, Greig said she posed as Bulger’s wife and used 10 different aliases while shopping for the couple, paying utility bills, meeting with doctors and dentists, and paying for prescription drugs for herself and her fugitive boyfriend. She also admitted that she is the person depicted on surveillance footage outside a Santa Monica pharmacy that was shown in court during hearings in her case.
Greig admitted she and Bulger obtained false identification documents including driver’s licenses and Social Security cards of real people. She admitted that she used one fake identity to pick up medicine and obtain medical services between 2002 and 2011, and used other aliases while dealing with a dentist who treated Bulger.
“I engaged in conduct that was intended to help Bulger avoid detection from law enforcement and to provide him with support and assistance during his flight from law enforcement,’’ Greig said in her statement.
Greig said she never used the fake identities “to defraud anyone else of money, goods or other property, although I do readily agree that I was in possession of the false identities and that I used the false identities to fill out forms to obtain medical services.’’
After Pirozzolo, the prosecutor, outlined the details of the charges against Greig at the hearing today, Judge Woodlock asked Greig, “That’s what happened?” She nodded her head.

http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2012/03/catherine-greig-james-whitey-bulger-girlfriend-plead-guilty-this-afternoon/DY0dqGdhdRM6X3BSqLRvNL/index.html?p1=News_links


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